Michigan State traveled to Allendale to take on Grand Valley State in a doubleheader to start off the semester. The Lakers were victorious in two very different games over the 13-manned Spartans.
The first game quickly turned into a rout. GVSU started school one week before MSU and had one more week of practice under its belt, and it showed early. The Lakers took points early and without much trouble to take 3-0 lead into the half. In the second half, the rust began to come off the Spartans as although they gave up two more points, they were far more competitive in the second half. Both teams realized that the outcome of the first game was set, and turned their eyes towards match number two.
The second game bore no resemblance to the first. MSU continued their tradition of double headers against GVSU in which the Lakers blow them out in round one, and then get all they can handle in round two. GVSU took the first point in a little over ten minutes. Quality team throws eliminated many of the key Spartan players. A couple catches kept hope alive for MSU, but they nonetheless fell behind 1-0. The second point started out similar to the first, with GVSU taking an early man advantage. But Assistant Captains Andy Lieblich and Alex Zajac made clutch catches and great throws to take the point with just over 30 seconds left in the half.
The first point of the second half turned out to be the decisive point. MSU methodically eliminated many Lakers through quality throws in transition. With just over nine minute remaining, Captain Colin O’Brien eliminated Austin Morley to take GVSU down to five players and a ten-second shot clock. The teams traded a couple of throws before MSU set up a team throw on GVSU #42 Ben Newhouse. Zajac threw low and left and O’Brien threw high and right. Newhouse was able to narrowly avoid Zajac’s throw while proceeding to catch O’Brien’s against his face. The catch was an enormous momentum shift as GVSU had eliminated the leader of the Spartans.
The Lakers were then able to take down the eight remaining MSU players to take the point with around eight minutes remaining. The final point point ended without either team eliminating the other. The Spartans were able to take GVSU down to a ten-clock after a fury of catches. However, time was not on Michigan State’s side as the clock ran out with a couple of Lakers remaining.
The rust was clearly present for the Spartans as they only had two practices prior to these two games. However, despite only having thirteen players, Michigan State competed very well in the second game against the undefeated Lakers. This game was the second game this season in which the Spartans had a chance to take the lead late in the second half against GVSU, in addition to two other games that they were in position to tie. Michigan State will play Grand Valley at least two more times before Nationals, at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup as well as the CMU Showdown, as they look to capitalize on their opportunities and grab their first ever win against GVSU.